Luna fixed her gaze on Charlie’s and held her breath. He needed to trust her. If he did, he’d know she had this under control. If nothing else, she could handle this situation. Good thing she knew the producers, assistants and a few of the guys rigging the cameras. She rested her hands on her hips. “That’s what I want. My astronaut back.”
“She’s your girlfriend?” the announcer asked. “Since when?”
“Three years.” She narrowed her eyes as she answered for Charlie. “Said he’d marry me.”
Charlie’s eyes widened, but he said nothing.
Did he remember how many times he’d proposed? She’d said no each time, but that hadn’t prevented him from trying. She crossed the space to him and wrapped her hands around his wrist. “And I plan on marrying him. Before the launch.” What was she saying?
“Marry me?” Charlie tensed beside her. Did he want to touch her? To show more affection? Christ, she wanted all the affection he could give.
“Yes. This was all a mix-up. I dared him to go on this show. I said, this will be great publicity. Everyone should catch the liftoff and the mission. We’re going to do great things during this mission.” She notched her chin in the air. “It looks like he won the bet. Silly girls. There are other astronauts and other shows for you to find dates. I’m sure you’ll be luckier there.”
“No, they won’t,” Lisa snapped. “This was all a set-up.”
“Duh.” Luna grasped Charlie’s hand. “We did it.”
“We did.” The muscle in his jaw worked overtime and he tensed.
“We’ll be back after a short commercial break.” The announcer signaled to the crew to cut to break. When the little red light went off, the announcer glared at Luna. “What the hell? No one told me about this. Were you doing a publicity stunt? This show is the publicity stunt. You breached the contract and you should be kicked off the lot.”
“I haven’t taken the money.” Charlie shrugged. “Or the car, but I accept responsibility for the breach.”
Renee, the producer, strode up to Luna. “Nice one.” She lowered her voice. “How about this…You’re trending—I guess people are tuned in to the train wreck. Why not turn this into something positive and we create a reality show around you two living your lives up to the mission and how you handle things during the mission, Lu? Keep the money. Keep the car. Consider it compensation for the clusterfuck today. What do you think?”
A reality show wasn’t her idea of fun because thy weren’t really a couple. They had boatloads of problems, most of all they’d have cameras following them when and if they had arguments. Did she want that kind of dirty laundry on display? “Well...” She needed to speak to Charlie and think this through. Things could get awkward. She still cared about him, but their old problems were still there.
“Lu? Renee tipped her head. “What do you think?”
Charlie draped his arm around Luna’s shoulders. “Yes.”
She tensed. Yes? What the hell? She stared at him. Part of her wanted to argue. Jesus. They had problems and didn’t need to play them out in public. What was he thinking?
“We’d love to.” Charlie kissed Luna’s temple. “Give us a day to prep and for you to get those clearances, but by all means, let’s film.”
“Luna? This will be great for the space team,” Renee grinned. “I’m getting word from the heads as we speak. Interest is way up. Yes? You both need to sign off for this to work, but I think we’ve got the winner we needed.”
“Draw it up. We’ll sign.” Charlie squeezed her shoulders. “Luna?”
She hated being cornered. She wanted to kick him, but what good would that do? Besides, she’d probably end up on television doing it. Not good. She’d saved him, but that didn’t mean she loved him. She glanced over at the women in the evening gowns. None of them were Charlie’s style. Too prissy. Lisa and her over-the-top glare was a tad much. She knew Lisa and could only imagine why she’d done the show. To get Charlie back for being accepted while she’d washed out? Lisa had had a thing for Charlie when they were in flight school and she hated when he’d started dating Luna over her. Was this retaliation?
“Luna?” Renee snapped her fingers. “Hey. Honey?”
“We’ll do it.” Luna focused on her friend. “It’ll be fun.” Nothing anyone ever said would be fun, in those terms, ended up being fun, but she had to put on a brave face. The space program needed attention. She’d help make the flight successful and keep Charlie happy. Maybe even give them a chance to make things work again. What did she have to lose?
“Then I’ll get the specs worked out.” Renee snapped her fingers again. “Show clips from the previous flights, Charlie’s interview tape and a crawler. I’ll tell you what to say.” She left Charlie and Luna alone.
Charlie directed Luna from the set to the dressing room. He shut the door and leaned against it. “Why did you do that?”
“Me? I should ask you that.” She folded her arms. “You signed us up for a show neither of us wanted to do. Now we’re stuck.”
“You could’ve said no,” Charlie said. “You could’ve let the charade out there happen.”
“You didn’t want it to happen. You were miserable.” She stood firm. “You were going to quit.”
“Then don’t put this all on me.” She knew they’d argue. Now they’d be arguing on national television. Damn it.
She barely contained her irritation. He knew how to get under her skin. He made her crazy. “What?”
“Why did you save my ass?” He sank onto the makeup chair. “I appreciate it. I was miserable. I’m not good at dating or whatever that was out there. You saved me, but I can’t figure out why.”
Some of her fury evaporated. She sighed. If he wanted the truth, she should give it to him. “Are you sure you want to know?”
“Yes. I need to.”